Professional mom seeking clarity, balance and a well deserved glass of wine.
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You know that moment when you’re cruising down the freeway with a thousand thoughts racing through your brain and, suddenly, a song comes on the radio that instantly transports you to a different place and time. Those thousand of thoughts turn into one memory or one specific moment in time. Any Carpenter’s song takes me right back to the 70’s, when I was a kid, and my parents would harmonize with Karen and Richard Carpenter, whenever their songs came on the car radio. Or when I hear the Doobie Brothers I’m whisked back to elementary school and a time when life felt simple and carefree.
Do smells ever trigger the same kinds of flashbacks for you? When you smell a particular aroma or fragrance and it reminds you of someone or some past experience? My good friend, Cheryl, reminded me once how our hands have such a significant role in our lives. How many things our hands do, touch and create in our lifetime. For some reason, these two ideas melded and it occurred to me how many times I smell something on my hands and it triggers a memory, reminds me of a person or experience.
After I’ve worked in the yard and get a whiff of fresh cut grass and gasoline from the lawnmower, memories of my dad rush over me and I smile every time. I loved helping him do yard work or admire the beautiful flower beds he planted. That memory immediately parlays into another experience of riding on the lawnmower with my Pappaw and a cousin or two in tow. For some reason, it was always a thrill “helping” him mow their giant backyard off highway 67.
The smell of Johnson’s baby shampoo or baby oil reminds me of bathtime when I was little. I always called the front of the tub (since I was older, of course). Warmer and deeper! And, my mom toweling us off and running a comb through our hair, followed by cozy pj’s and the feeling of being squeaky clean and relaxed and loved.
Aqua Net reminds me of my mom’s beauty shop that was built on to our home in Yorktown, Indiana. All the shampoos and sets she did for ladies from church, great-aunts, and friends of friends. Layers and layers of Aqua Net to hold them over until next weeks appointment. I always wondered how they could go a whole week without washing their hair. This still makes me shudder. Yuk!
An odd one is the smell of grape juice. Always reminds me of communion at church. Every time the tray passed I just wanted to slurp up about ten of those little plastic cups full of Welch’s grape juice. One was such a tease. And never enough to completely wash down the bit of cracker that always seemed to get stuck in my throat.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Heaven Scent powder and cologne. All through jr. high and high school that was my go-to elixir to cover up the disgusting smells of puberty.
The smell of tobacco reminds me of Dad popping a quarter into the cigarette machine as we exited a restaurant in the 70’s. I always wanted to pull the handle and listen for the pack to drop. He’d peel back the clear plastic wrapper and, before pulling a cigarette out, he’d tap the pack twice on a table top or the dashboard in the car. What purpose this had I’ll never know.
Youth Dew, a popular Estee Lauder cologne back in the day, will forever remind me of my Mom and my Aunt Barb. I can always smell them hugging me or the scent wafting past my nose as they breezed by to chase a kid or dash into the bathroom before someone else beat them to it.
Crayons make me think of my sister. All the mad coloring we did in the back seat of whatever Buick we had. Hours and hours of filling coloring books with layers and layers of Crayola. And that one time we left a pile of them in the back window of my mom’s car on a very hot Indiana day and they all melted together. I thought mom would kill us. Oops!
And, ever since that time I was sitting in an important meeting and brushed my hand across my nose and was greeted by the smell of shit! (eyes wide open) “Oh my Lord! Why do my fingers smell like shit?” I immediately traced my steps from the morning and remembered I changed the baby’s diaper in a mad rush to exit stage left, get her to the sitters and make it to this oh so important meeting to impress the hell out of this client. And there I sat wondering if anyone else could smell it. Would they hold it against me that I’m a mom and spend my mornings changing diapers and breastfeeding while they were, most likely, at the gym at 5am, followed by a breakfast meeting and definitely don’t have breast pockets covered in a milk stain.
Our hands have been through a lot! Holding, hugging, creating and changing. Clearly, our noses too. Breathing in the smells of life.
What smells trigger a memory for you—instantly teleporting you to another time or place?
Stay sane, my friends.
(always sniff your hands before a big meeting)